Letter from Jean Ziegler

Jean Ziegler and other Swiss politicians sent this letter to the German Embassy in Baghdad on April 30, 2022. Until today, no reply has been received

We, the undersigned, turn to you to inquire about the situation of the two journalists Marlene F. and Matej K. – German and Slovenian citizens – who were arrested last Wednesday, April 20, 2022, by the Iraqi army in the Yazidi town of Sinjar in northern Iraq.

We have been informed that:

 – A consulate member has been in contact with the Iraqi authorities regarding this case, but it seems that you have not made any contact with Marlene and Matej.

– Neither the journalists’ relatives nor legal counsels have been able to contact them.

– Their exact whereabouts have not yet been determined, or at least are not publicly known.

According to witnesses who were present at the time of the arrest, the two journalists were arrested without given a reason, their phones and all their equipment were confiscated, they were strip-searched against their will, and threatened by soldiers who arrested them.

We, public figures and politicians who are deeply familiar with Yazidi and Kurdish issues in Iraq and the Middle East, are also aware of the recent political developments in the area (specifically Turkish army attacks on Kurdish areas in the north of the country, confrontations between the Iraqi army and the Yazidi defense forces of Sinjar). Therefore, we are particularly concerned for Marlene and Matej’s well-being and must know they are safe.

In addition, we ask you to work for their immediate release. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees everyone the right to freedom of speech and expression and the right to freedom of the press and information. These rights are of utmost importance, and under no circumstances should journalists be imprisoned. In addition, Marlene and Matej researched the  Yazidis’ precarious situation in Iraq. Thus, their arrest also concerns the protection of the Yazidi population in the region. Marlene and Matej advocate for the recognition of the Yazidis’ rights and are committed to reinstating human rights in the region. Their work promotes peace between all peoples of the region.

For all these reasons, we ask you to:

1. Send updates on Marlene and Matej’s situation and assure us that they are well.

2. Do everything in your power so their lawyers and relatives can contact them directly.

3. Work for their speedy and complete release.

The undersigned

Stéfanie Prezioso, Member of the Swiss National Council (SolidaritéS)

Jean Ziegler, vice-president of the Advisory Committee of the United Nations Human Rights Council

Carlo Sommaruga, Member of the Swiss Council of States (SP)

Nicolas Walder, Member of the Swiss National Council (Greens)

Pierre Vanek, former member of the National Council, current member of the Geneva City Council (SolidaritéS)

Jean Batou, member of the Geneva City Parliament (SolidaritéS)

Jean Burgermeister, member of the Geneva City Parliament (Ensemble à Gauche)